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4 January 2008
JSU’s Bill Meehan Looks Back over 2007

By Jennifer Bacchus
News Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Dr. Bill Meehan reminises about the year 2007. Photo: Anita Kilgore

Bringing in the new may be a good way to describe 2007 for Jacksonville State University. Enrollment was up, new buildings opened and a new paperless system of enrollment was put into place.

“I want to thank our staff, faculty and students for being very patient with our big system change this year, which is Banner,” said Dr. William Meehan, president of JSU.

The system has had its problems as students, faculty and parents adjust to the paperless system, but Meehan believes most of the bugs are in the past and looks forward to working with Banner.

“If you’ve been following the student newspaper, the students have been having fun with cartoons,” said Meehan. “It has been a challenge, but I appreciate everyone’s patience and it will work out fine.”

Construction on two buildings was completed in 2007 and began on a third.

The Gladys M. Carlisle Applied Arts Facility gave the art department some much-needed room as well as a nice place to work.

“The Carlisle building was a wonderful addition, with that program putting our faculty and students in a very safe facility for operating our kiln and other art and ceramics. Having a home for our photography lab and computer graphics lab was very nice,” said Meehan. “It helped us meet our accreditation standards for National Association of Schools of Art and Design.”

Atop Chimney Peak sits the university’s new observatory, which only lacks the installation of a computer system before it is fully operational.

“I wish I could tell you that it was absolutely finished and up and ready for stellar observations. The computer is not yet attached, but the telescope is there,” said Meehan. “Hopefully by spring we’ll have the software.”

While the two buildings were getting their finishing touches, a large area was cleared for the JSU Field Schools at Little River Canyon. The building, which will be known as the Little River Canyon Center, will house offices for the National Park Service as well as space for instructors and students from JSU.

“We hope to have that facility completed this next year and I’m just so excited,” said Meehan. “When you walk in the middle of that facility and you’re in this giant atrium, you look up and see the beautiful timbers and then you look out and see that beautiful view, it’s just inspirational.”

With 9,077 students, enrollment for the fall semester of 2007 was the second highest in the history of JSU.

“The largest increase in first time and freshman students since 1989,” said Meehan of the numbers.

The dorms at JSU were a reflection of the number of students as the school saw most of its housing at or near capacity. In response, they began to make plans for the future.

“We’ve now refurbished the majority of our dormitories. We have a few of our apartments left to refurbish, but they’re in good shape. We’re making plans for new dormitories because that’s what students want. We can increase our enrollment, I firmly believe that if we increase our housing that we’ll get more students and that will help us achieve our goal of 10,000 students,” said Meehan.

The current bond on the universities dorms will be paid off toward the end of 2008, freeing funds to invest in new on-campus housing.

Two new courses of study were also added to the school’s curriculum in 2007 – a minor in coaching and a new concentration in sports administration within the Masters in Public Administration.

“Of course, what we’re doing more often is taking our programs and putting them in distance learning format,” said Meehan. “We have more than 14 degree programs in distance learning.”

JSU continues to look for the future in its finances as well. The school’s capital campaign, which ends in December 2008, is nearing its $25 million goal. Over 19.6 million has already been raised and plans are to use the funds on new academic buildings and scholarships among other capital projects.

About Jennifer Bachus

Jennifer Bacchus is a staff writer at The Jacksonville News. She can be reached at 256-435-5021 or via e-mail at

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